Rapid urbanisation Poor planning, rapid urbanisation, and a insufficient funding for subsidised housing – all of these have plagued the city of Rio de Janeiro state – and nothing has been done to react to warnings repeatedly given about the dangers of building on mountains Researchers, as well the current and former public officials, have stated.
There is evidence that climate change has caused greater intensity of rainfall, the risk has increased not only for Petropolis however, but all over the world too.
Antonio Guerra, a geography professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and has been studying the effects of weather on Petropolis for more than 30 years.
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He has visited numerous locations where homes and lives were destroyed by floods of mud. He has also investigated the of the causes.
“Rain is the main character, yet the real cause is poor land usage. There’s a complete lack of planning” Guerra told The Associated Press.
More than 1,500 have perished in similar land slides in the past few years within the Serra do Mar range. There are over 400 people killed resulting from massive storms in Petropolis in the last decade alone.
The city’s sprawling chaos is not new. It is located in the mountains 64km (40 miles) from Rio de Janeiro and named in honor of an earlier Brazilian Emperor, Petropolis was among the first planned cities of the nation.
The first settlers built lavish houses along the waterways. In recent times, the city’s economic prosperity has drawn new residents from the poorer regions, and its population has grown to close to 300,000.
Mountainsides are now covered by tiny houses tightly packed together, built by those who aren’t aware of the risks. A lot of people have built homes without permits because they are unable to build in other areas.
Certain areas that are at risk are more vulnerable to the effects of the loss of forest land or poor drainage, Guerra said. As time passes the population forgets about disasters, and go back to areas devastated to build houses on dangerous soil.
Between 2007 between 2007 and between 2007 and Guerra and a group of geologists and civil engineers identified areas of risk in Petropolis and then reported their findings to Petropolis.
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In the following month, heavy rains led to landslides that claimed over 1,000 lives, with including 71 in Petropolis. It was widely regarded as Brazil’s worst natural catastrophe.
The city has acknowledged the issue. In 2017, officials noted there was a high risk of 18 percent in the city’s population, which includes around 20,000 households – were at very or high risk. A further 7,000 residents would have to be relocated in accordance with a plan formulated by the municipal government that required the construction low-cost housing as well as the halt of new construction in high-risk areas.
Guerra, Valverde, non-governmental groups and residents have said that very they have not seen enough done to realize their dream. There’s not much available space in Petropolis to allow for safe, new construction. Also, the idea of removing residents from their residences is not popular politically as there’s often no place to put residents in proximity to their homes.
The Brazilian daily Folha de S Paulo, according to official figures, said that the Rio state government did not spend more than half the funds allocated to its disaster prevention and response program.
Rio state’s infrastructure and construction secretariat told via email AP that the inspection of at-risk areas, housing policy , and relocations fall under the city’s control. The city has not responded to multiple requests for details on the number of families that had been relocated in the last year and what other actions were in place in order to implement the plan.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has tried to discredit the blame, claiming that prevention measures are a bit sluggish. “A often we don’t have the resources to be prepared for every possibility that could occur,” he said on Friday in Petropolis following a flight over the catastrophe.